Last Monday, January 20th, was Blue Monday. They said it was the most depressing day of the year. At the staff meeting, Dave said, “Somehow, this year started with a lot of darkness.” And that is so true. This year, somehow from the beginning, a lot of tragic things happened. On January 8th, which was my birthday, a Ukraine airplane was shot down by an Iranian missile and all 176 people on board were killed. There were 63 Canadians, also. We felt shock, sadness, and even anger. Not only did many people die and lose their future completely in an instant, but the lives of their families were deeply affected permanently, for the rest of their lives. Their lives will not be the same anymore. And after that, because of the Corona virus, that started in Wuhan, a city in China, the whole world is concerned and scared.
Even in Canada, now we have one possible case. So from the beginning of the year, we have encountered a deep darkness. We started with experiencing darkness. You know, my friends, there are times when life is dark, simply dark. We cannot see what’s ahead of us, all we see are problems, just lots of problems. Sometimes, we cannot even see God, or feel God. Somehow we feel that God is so quiet and distant. The prophet, Isaiah, lived in a very dark time, probably darker than our time, because they lost their nation, identity, temple, religion, everything. But he wrote his prophecy, reminding people about the time of Midian. This is what he said, “For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.” He remembered the history of the Israelites defeating the Midianites with only 300 people under the leadership of Gideon. Yes, Gideon led the whole nation into victory. He led the world into victory, but he himself went through his own dark time. Before that victory came, this was Gideon’s prayer. You’re not sure whether this a prayer or a protest against God. This is what he said, “But sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His wonderful deeds that our ancestors recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Midian.” He experienced darkness.
Remembering God’s Grace in Times of Darkness
When do we experience darkness? A lot of the times, when we feel powerless, and when we feel so small compared to the magnitude, the size of the problems that we face. When we see no hope, no matter what we do, nothing changes. And when we see no hope, and no future, we experience darkness. And when we are terribly scared about ourselves, about our children. When we are scared, when we have no confidence, when we are filled with negative thoughts all the time. When we’re just sitting there, but all the negative things flood into us, into our soul. That’s when we experience darkness. What should we do? What should we do when we experience darkness?
Remember, remember. Remember how God has brought you out of darkness in the past. Remember that. What God did in your own past, how he brought you out of that darkness, remember that. That’s what Isaiah did. Isaiah remembered how God delivered them from the hands of the Midianites. Even in that depressing time, Isaiah cried out like this, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.” So whenever you experience darkness, just remember how God brought you out of darkness. You didn’t come out of that darkness with your own strength, did you? With your own wisdom?
Somehow, God gave you the power. God gave you the wisdom, God opened a door for you, and God paved the road for you, so that you could walk out of that darkness. Didn’t God do that? God did that in the past. I don’t know how I came out of that darkness, but somehow I came out of it. But behind it all, there was a God who brought us out of that darkness. I still remember, I prayed, but I didn’t believe. I prayed so hard that things will change, but nothing changed. I didn’t really believe that anything will change. But as I look back, God was there. God changed. God brought me, and a lot of people out of that darkness.
Believing in God’s Light
You know, I shared with you a long time ago that I used to write prayer in a notebook. And then one day, I forgot about it. The whole book, I forgot about it. But one day, I was moving and then I found that diary. So in the middle of moving, I sat down and I started reading. And I couldn’t continue without tears because, at that time, I didn’t even know that God answered my prayer, but God answered my prayer so beautifully in a way that I could not even imagine. God brought you out of that darkness with his grace, he will do that. If he did that in the past, he will do that now, and in the future. So when you are in darkness, when your life is dark, remember how God has brought you out of darkness. And another thing, I mean, we just read it, but, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” They didn’t see the great light yet. And those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined, the light did not shine yet, but somehow Isaiah believed that the light will come to them.
So two things. One, is to remember. The other, is to believe that God will bring light to you. People who have this faith will be able to overcome their own darkness. But those who do not have this faith will not be able to come out of that darkness. They’ll be locked up in that darkness. Don’t be locked up in that darkness. With faith, come out of it. When we turn our back on God, we’ll not be able to see God’s face. But when we turn around and see God’s face, then the light of God’s face will shine upon us. When God makes his face shine upon us, darkness will disappear and we’ll be full of light. We’ll no longer be victims of negative thoughts. We’ll see hope. That is possible, my friends, that’s not a theory. That is possible. That can be a reality. We need to believe that.
Driving out the Darkness with the Light
Guilt, fear, insecurity, shame, anger, all these things come from darkness. But now, forgiveness, courage, confidence, honor, and love, and all these things come from light. How do we drive out the darkness that is within us? How can we do that? We have no strength. We have no power to do that. We don’t have that kind of power. How can we stop the worries that come to us like a wave? How can we stop the fear and the darkness that come to us like a wave? We don’t have that power and strength to be able to drive out the darkness. The only thing that can drive out the darkness is the light. Only when the light comes, that darkness will slowly, and automatically move away. Not condemnation, but forgiveness. Not hatred, but love. Not anger, but kindness. Darkness can be shattered by the power of the light. That’s why when Jesus came, he did not condemn us because when you condemn us, it will just drive us into deeper darkness. That’s why he didn’t condemn us. He forgave us. By forgiving us, he let us reach the light rather than go into darkness. That’s why he didn’t condemn us, but he forgave us.
Bringing the Light to One Another
That love, that forgiveness, that is light. When we forgive each other, we’ll experience the light. They’re very much connected. This is what John said, “Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.” How accurately he saw, how accurately he saw. My friends, we remain in darkness because we have hatred within us, because we have hatred within us. That’s why we remain in the darkness. From hatred, comes anger, from anger, violence comes. That’s how this world is operating right now, from hatred, from anger, and from anger, comes the violence. And we see violence all around us. When love is restored within us, the light will start shining in our life. God’s light will shine upon us, and we’ll become the light. When we hate our enemies, we’ll both fall into darkness. But if we love our enemies, then the light will drive out the darkness. That’s why Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” That’s why Jesus said that, so that we can bring the light. When we love one another, encourage one another, and empower one another, we can overcome our darkness, and becoming together becomes a reality.
Darkness will not control us anymore. Darkness is weaker than light. Hatred is weaker than love. We believe that love is much, much stronger. Light is much, much stronger, than hate or darkness. Where there is love, hatred has to go. Where there is light, darkness has to go. My friends, let us be children of light who shine in the darkness. I pray that God brings light into your soul, and shines upon your soul so that your soul may be healed. May this year be the year filled with hope, light and love.